Sustainable cleaning strategies in offices

Four Ways Facilities Managers Can Promote Healthier, More Environmentally Friendly Office Buildings

In the last year, office cleaning was enhanced to reduce the spread of COVID-19, which resulted in levels well above the average chemical consumption. Most cleaning chemicals contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that endanger the safety and health of building occupants. VOCs are released into the air and seriously affect Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Similarly, transporting and manufacturing these chemicals further damages the environment through the use of natural resources and the creation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Why is it important to keep this in mind? Because expectations for cleanliness have changed in a previously foreseen future. Construction service contractors (BSCs) and janitorial teams will continue to clean hard, especially now, as COVID-19 cases linked to the Delta variant increase. Moving forward, facility managers must carefully select the right chemicals and equipment to dramatically reduce the impact on the environment and people, especially since 90% of respondents in a survey conducted with the help of Boston Consulting Group said the pandemic has worried them equally or more about environmental problems.

Protecting our planet (and the building's occupants)

In addition to adversely affecting the environment, many commercial cleaning products can harm people. For example, a poor IAQ exacerbates respiratory illnesses such as asthma and allergies, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that a poor IAQ leads to an increase in illness and absences. Investing in green office cleaning programs can help preserve the health of office workers, cleaning professionals who use the products every day, and the environment.

Better ways to implement sustainable office cleaning

For healthier and more environmentally friendly office buildings, consider the following suggestions for your cleaning program:

1. Replace harsh chemicals.

Many cleaning chemicals are made from unknown ingredients that are not environmentally friendly. It can be difficult to know which chemicals to choose, especially since many products appear to be sustainable even if they don't meet environmental standards. Do not use products with a long list of ingredients. As an alternative, consider on-site generation systems (OSG), which produce electrochemically activated solutions (ECAS) using only salt, electricity, and water. The cleaner and disinfectant does not contain fragrances, dyes, or volatile organic compounds that can affect people and cleans just as effectively as other brand name cleaning solutions. On-site chemical generation significantly reduces plastic waste and eliminates reliance on frequent chemical shipments.

2. Invest in teams that support sustainability.

As with chemicals, technological advances are making soil care processes more sustainable. Some machines can turn water into an effective cleaning solution, reducing the need for traditional and aggressive floor cleaners. Many facilities also benefit from automated machines that reduce resource use and manage floor care, while cleaning professionals oversee other key tasks. In fact, research shows that robotic floor care equipment reduces water pollution by 77%, air pollution by 94%, and energy use by 97%. Additionally, BSCs and facility managers should consider solutions such as wall-mounted dispensers that adequately dilute cleaning solutions to limit product waste and robotic vacuums that keep carpets clean to reduce carpet replacement. and waste in landfills.

3. Choose environmentally sourced consumables.

To avoid creating unnecessary waste, get sustainable multipurpose cleaning supplies like refillable spray bottles and microfiber cleaning cloths. Also, consider EPA-recommended toilet paper made up of 20-60% post-consumer bathroom material, as small changes like this can make a big difference in high-traffic office buildings.

Single-use plastic items take years to break down and leave toxic chemicals and particles, especially in our oceans. For example, a plastic bottle takes 450 years or more to break down into microplastic.

4. Examine cleaning service providers carefully.

Many companies claim to prioritize green cleaning when, in fact, they are. This is the process of providing misleading information about how a company's products or processes are environmentally sound. When looking for cleaning service providers for your facility, consider a partner that has earned certifications from trusted third-party organizations like Green Seal. Green Seal certifies cleaning programs based on whether they meet rigorous testing standards that include effective and sustainable cleaning and sanitizing procedures and equipment. Whether you operate a LEED certified building or just want to go greener, consider requiring BSCs to use sustainable solutions to maintain your office facilities.

A greener and healthier future

The increased expectations for cleanup will continue long after the pandemic ends. A 2021 Harris poll found that more than half (58%) of employed Americans who worked in an office before the pandemic would like to see an increase in cleaning and sanitizing measures implemented in their workplace as a result. of COVID-19. Opting for sustainable cleaning practices in offices can greatly reduce the use of plastic, chemicals, water and energy and demonstrates a commitment to the planet and the health and well-being of the building's occupants. Since commercial buildings consume a large volume of resources on a daily basis, prioritizing efficient and sustainable cleaning is a must for forward-thinking facilities managers.

Source: CMM Online